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A San Francisco man who offered a free pinch of marijuana to a seemingly stressed-out stranger -- who turned out to be an undercover cop -- has been acquitted of felony drug charges.
As reported by KPIX-TV, Stetson Qualls Jones was smoking marijuana in Golden Gate Park when a man asked him if he could buy $20 worth of weed. Jones declined, but offered to give the man a little of his own stash for free. He was then swarmed by cops, who had been conducting an undercover drug distribution sting.
What were the charges in this case, and why did the jury acquit Jones?
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After being arrested, Jones was found to be in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
According to a statement released by the San Francisco Public Defender's office, police testified at trial that they found $20 underneath Jones' blanket. But Jones claimed he declined the undercover officer's money, as he believes marijuana is medicine that should be freely shared.
After spending four days in jail, Jones was charged with a violation of California's Health and Safety Code, which makes possession of any amount marijuana for sale, notwithstanding the state's medical marijuana laws, a felony.
At Jones' trial, the defense pointed out the prosecution's lack of corroborating evidence, including a lack of statements collected from those who witnessed the bust, or even photographs of the crime scene. Police officers also admitted that they were being paid overtime for the sting operation in the park.
Jones was found not guilty of the possession for sale charge -- a conviction for which could've landed him in prison for up to three years. However, jurors did find Jones guilty of violating Section 11357 of the California Health and Safety Code, in that he possessed less than an ounce of marijuana.
His sentence for the infraction: a $25 fine.
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